It’s time for straight talk­ing: Aus­tralia are sim­ply bet­ter than us

Eng­land’s bowlers have no pace and bats­men are be­ing care­less

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Second Ashes Test - GE­OF­FREY BOY­COTT

Let’s be bru­tally hon­est. For the all the up­beat talk from our play­ers and the hopes and ex­pec­ta­tions from our sup­port­ers, Aus­tralia are bet­ter than us. The Ashes are gone. We are not com­ing back from 2-0 down. Eng­land have a mas­sive job avoid­ing a 5-0 thrash­ing.

These two Tests have been played on slow Aus­tralian pitches and one was a day-night Test in English-type con­di­tions that should have given Joe Root’s team a great chance of a win.

Eng­land com­peted oc­ca­sion­ally but for huge pe­ri­ods, and at the cru­cial mo­ments, we were just not good enough and lost by large mar­gins in both Tests.

Eng­land have won two ses­sions over 10 days of Test cricket. They can­not make enough runs to give the bowlers a de­cent chance. Un­less Alas­tair Cook or Root scores a cen­tury, you feel the oth­ers will get them­selves out.

How can you put pres­sure on the op­po­si­tion with bat­ting to­tals of 302 and 190 in Bris­bane and 227 and 233 in Ade­laide? Ir­re­spon­si­ble, care­less strokes are down to the men­tal side of Test bat­ting as much as tech­nique.

Many of our guys are not pre­pared to work for their runs. They come in play­ing shots straight away as if it is one-day cricket. Do they not un­der­stand that scor­ing rates do not mean any­thing, or that how many balls you re­ceive, the num­ber of fours and sixes you hit, are unim­por­tant?

Aus­tralia have a very good four-man bowl­ing at­tack who put us un­der pres­sure, so pa­tience, con­cen­tra­tion and a good de­fence are ab­so­lutely vi­tal as they do not give away too many easy, hit­table balls.

Root won the toss and prob­a­bly thought in over­cast weather that might be Eng­land’s best chance of get­ting 20 wick­ets. I did not agree at the time and still don’t. If you have a mod­est or in­ex­pe­ri­enced bat­ting line up, you are un­der even more pres­sure bat­ting sec­ond chas­ing a to­tal.

So many of them do not have the dis­ci­pline to wait for a ball to hit. Their judg­ment on shot se­lec­tion is poor. For ex­am­ple, Eng­land had five ses­sions in the field and a lot of time to watch Shaun Marsh bat. He oc­cu­pied the crease, let balls go he did not have to play out­side off stump. He grafted hard with de­ter­mi­na­tion, de­fended nearly 200 dot balls and bat­ted al­most eight hours in the mid­dle. Only af­ter he had scored a cen­tury and earned the right to play shots did he start to bat ex­pan­sively.

Eng­land learned noth­ing watch­ing him. When Eng­land bat­ted on the sec­ond evening, Mark Stone­man made a quick, streaky 19. Next morn­ing – fourth ball – James Vince at­tempted one of the most dif­fi­cult shots to the new ball. A back foot drive is fraught with dan­ger be­cause it only has to move a frac­tion or bounce a bit and you are gone. The bowlers and slips love you to try that shot to a new ball. Vince could and should have left it. Root drove at a wide ball as soon as he came in and was caught at third slip. Moeen Ali tried to whip the turn­ing ball through mid­wicket against the spin and Jonny Bairstow was caught and bowled, head high driv­ing on the up. If you give away first-in­nings wick­ets like that then you are in a mess.

Eng­land have no pace to hurt or un­set­tle Aus­tralia’s bats­men. James An­der­son and Stu­art Broad are good with the new ball but so are Josh Ha­zle­wood, Mitchell Starc and Pat Cum­mins. When the Kook­aburra ball loses its hard­ness and shine, Aus­tralia can still at­tack and un­set­tle our bats­men with pace and short balls. Un­less we have English con­di­tions, our sec­ond-string seam­ers look as if they are bowl­ing their bats­men in rather than out. In Nathan Lyon, Aus­tralia have a wicket-tak­ing spin­ner who can dis­miss bats­men like Graeme Swann used to do in his prime. Moeen is to­tally in­ef­fec­tive and that is a huge prob­lem.

Clare Con­nor, for­mer Eng­land women’s cricket cap­tain and full-time paid em­ployee of the Eng­land and Wales Cricket Board, tweeted that I was ar­ro­gant and un­bear­able with my com­ments be­cause I was crit­i­cal and did not praise Eng­land enough.

I do not see how I can say good things out of bad cricket. Eng­land are 2-0 down af­ter two Tests and have been to­tally out­played. I am not here to be Eng­land’s cheer­leader. I am in Aus­tralia to be ob­jec­tive and tell view­ers, lis­ten­ers and read­ers my hon­est opin­ion. Clare is not in a po­si­tion to be un­bi­ased or neu­tral in her opin­ions as she is paid by the ECB.

My per­sonal feel­ings are that I would love to praise Eng­land and for them to beat the Aussies. But I have to give my hon­est pro­fes­sional opin­ions. I played in seven Ashes series, was on four win­ning teams and lost once. I toured Aus­tralia four times as a player and many times as com­men­ta­tor so I be­lieve I have a de­cent idea of what is re­quired to win Tests in these Aus­tralian con­di­tions.

All over: Aus­tralia cel­e­brate tak­ing the fi­nal wicket of Jonny Bairstow

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